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NFL - US Sports: Devon Allen from sprinting to football - NFL stars with alternative careers

Philadelphia Eagles fans are excited about Devon Allen - the two-time national sprint hurdles champion and double Olympic finalist - returning to football this year.

Between twice tearing his ACL while playing wide receiver in college for Oregon, Allen placed fifth in the 110m hurdles final at the 2016 Rio Games.

But for those injuries, he could already be an established NFL star, so it will be interesting to see how a man who clocked the third-fastest time ever in his chosen event gets on entering the league at 27 years of age.

'Bullet' Bob Hayes blazed the trail for sprinters in the NFL when he returned with two gold medals and a world record from the 1964 Tokyo Games to become one of the best deep threats in football with the Dallas Cowboys.

He made it to three Pro Bowls, won a Super Bowl and was eventually inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

While Allen is hanging up his track cleats to focus on football, some other players have been able to maintain alternative careers alongside their sport. Many others have gone on to stardom in other spheres after leaving the NFL.

From baseball diamond to gridiron

The days of dual-sport athletes seem to have gone now as seasons encroach on one another amid increased demand for dedication to a single pastime. The greatest dual-sport exponent of recent times, Bo Jackson, successfully switched between football and baseball for four years of a career that saw him named an All-Star in both.

From 1989 to 1990, Jackson was recognized as one of MLB's best outfielders and one of the NFL's top running backs. In the 1989 All-Star Game, he crushed a lead-off home run and won the MVP award before earning a Pro Bowl selection a year later. Sadly, a hip injury ended his career in both sports.

'Neon' Deion Sanders, the only athlete to appear in a Super Bowl and World Series, once tried to play in an NFL game and a baseball playoff game on the same day by hiring a private jet.

The Atlanta Braves kiboshed his attempt, but he went on to bat .533 with four runs, eight hits, two doubles, and one RBI during the 1992 World Series for them while playing with a broken bone in his foot.

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Lords of the ring

NFL stars often have wrestling backgrounds. Aaron Donald, an accomplished high school wrestler, is a Super Bowl champion and future Hall of Famer while Riley Reiff, a free agent likely to get picked up soon, won three South Dakota state titles and compiled a 121-1 record before he entered college.

Many have gone back into the ring during or after their pro careers, such as Roman Reigns. The current and longest-reigning WWE Universal Champion was on the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars' practice squads.

Brock Lesnar, a star of mixed martial arts as well as wrestling, played some preseason games for the Vikings after appearing at Wrestlemania XX, but a groin injury hampered his chances of making their final roster.

Medical men making it in the NFL

A number of medical students have embarked on parallel football careers down the years but Laurent Duvaney-Tardif is only the fourth medical school graduate to play in the NFL.

After starting at guard and winning Super Bowl LIV with the Kansas City Chiefs, he put his football career on hold to work as an orderly at a Montreal long-term care facility but returned to action with the New York Jets in 2021.

Long-snapper Camaron Cheeseman was a biology, health and society major at Michigan who tested in the 93rd percentile on the Dental Admission Test and was accepted to dental school prior to entering the 2021 draft.

His dreams of dentistry have been put on hold by a four-year $3.5m contract to play for the Washington Commanders.

Movie stardom beckons for some

Hollywood has always embraced football stars with charisma - even before ex-Oakland Raiders linebacker Carl Weathers made it onto the big screen as Apollo Creed in the 'Rocky' franchise.

Legendary Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown famously retired in July 1966 at age 30 to take a co-starring role in 'The Dirty Dozen', but he began his acting career while still playing football, appearing as an army sergeant in 1964 Western 'Rio Conchos'.

Latterly, the first Oscar to go to an ex-NFL star was collected by Matthew A. Cherry, who invested the $30,000 injury settlement he received from the Baltimore Ravens in a writing course that, after much hard work, paid off when Hair Love, which he wrote and directed, was the academy's choice for best animated short film.

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